Home ice has been the advantage in this second round Western Conference series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild.
After the Blackhawks took the first two games back in Chicago, the Wild erupted for a pair of wins in Minnesota. What was once a best-of-seven series is now just a best-of-three, as it shifts back to Chicago for Game 5 on Sunday.
The Wild once again held the high-octane offensive players of the Blackhawks in check for the most part, keeping Chicago to just 21 shots on goal in a 4-2 victory in Game 4 on Friday. The series is now tied up 2-2.
Ilya Bryzgalov was front and center for Minnesota in the win. Yes, he had one of his moments when he gave up a soft goal to Patrick Sharp in the opening period. The Blackhawks’ forward beat the Wild goalie through the legs with a wrist shot from near the bottom of the faceoff circle, getting Chicago onto the board.
But he was brilliant after that.
His biggest save came off Sharp in the second period. Bryzgalov kicked out the right pad on Sharp’s breakaway chance, maintaining his team’s one-goal lead at the time.
Jared Spurgeon, with his second goal of the evening, gave the Wild a two-goal lead early in the third period.
Chicago had its chances, but it could be argued the defending Stanley Cup champs didn’t test Bryzgalov enough. Friday’s game was the fourth of this series in which the Blackhawks were held to less than 25 shots on goal.
There was a scary moment in the second period, when Chicago forward Brandon Bollig ran Minnesota defenseman Keith Ballard from behind into the end glass.
Bollig was assessed a minor penalty for boarding. As per Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, there was no update on Ballard following the game.
From the Southampton Press:
Sean Avery, the former National Hockey League player, was arrested by Southampton Village Police last week on two criminal charges.
According to authorities, Mr. Avery was arrested September 30 following a routine traffic stop on Jennings Avenue in the village at about 4:09 p.m. He was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief and two counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, all misdemeanors.
Police said the criminal mischief charge involved an incident the day before, when Mr. Avery allegedly threw objects at passing vehicles.
As for those counts of possession, according to the newspaper, Avery was found to have “two prescription drugs, acetaminophen with oxycodone and roxicodone.”
He was released on $500 bail and ordered to appear in court at a later date.
Did we mention he’s supposed to get married this weekend?
Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.
Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.
The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.
“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told NJ.com. “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”
At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.
The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.
Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.